Sunday, May 29, 2011

Education & Employment: The Missing Link

Public spaces in Kerala are usually dominated by advertisements for jewellery, textiles or real-estate. Under the canopy of these billboards promising the most exclusive ornaments, garments and villas, a new type of poster has been appearing on walls and bus-stands. These are put out by private educational institutions to publicize their success in helping students clear the board-examinations.

Looking at these posters you marvel at the the amount of money people are willing to invest in their children's education, and, at the same time, despair at the futility of their efforts. The serious inadequacies in the Indian education system were highlighted by the Prime Minister himself, way back in 2007 - "(only) Around 10% of our students of the relevant age group is enrolled in any institute of higher education, as compared to 50% in most developed countries...less then 50% of high-school students continue into higher education in any form. Almost two-thirds of our universities and 90% of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters. And, most important, there is a nagging fear that university curriculum is not synchronized with employment needs".

Has anything been done to remove the mismatch between the curriculum and employment needs? Have the teachers stopped advocating rote memorization and the obsession with exam success? 

According to an Oxford academic, many Indians have discovered education at the precise moment at which formal schooling has ceased to be a passport to success. Weaknesses of the education system in India have been identified in numerous studies -   lack of continuous assessment; teachers and students tend to focus on examinations and curricular review tends to be slow. These weaknesses have already translated into serious bottlenecks for the economy - there is already a serious shortage of suitably trained civil engineers; India now relies on tens of thousands of Chinese guest workers to expand its energy infrastructure and the shortage of software professionals is expected to be 3,500,000 by 2020!

Given the number of education institutions that are owned or controlled directly by the politicians, one wonders why they have not yet spotted an opportunity in changing the focus of education from exams to employment. 



* Karl, David J. (2011). EDUCATION IN URGENT NEED FOR OVERHAUL. Hindu BusinessLine16 May 2011.
* Suroor, Hasan (2011). 'EDUCATION IS A NECESSARY BUT NOT A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR SOCIAL MOBILITY: Interview with Craig Jeffrey, and Oxford academic. Hindu BusinessLine  May 2011
* Kapur, Vikram (2011): A TRAVESTY OF EDUCATION, The Hindu, 25 June 2011 URL -

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